Former Kentucky cornerback commitment Jeremiah Caldwell of Belleville (Mich.) High School reopened his recruitment on Aug. 1, and Tennessee quickly has emerged as one of the top contenders for him. Sources said the Vols have impressed him since hosting him for one of their camps and extending an offer to him on June 17, and while he was committed to the Wildcats at the time, Tennessee was believed to be a threat to Kentucky even at the time of the offer. Now that he’s officially back on the market, sources said the Vols are currently one of the teams to beat, although he doesn’t appear to be rushing to a final decision.
Michigan State might be Tennessee’s main competition for the 6-foot-2, 177-pound Caldwell at the moment, according to sources. Michigan also gave him an offer in April, but the Wolverines don’t appear to be as much of a factor at the moment. Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks’ strong ties in the Detroit area have helped the Vols with Caldwell, and he liked what he saw during his trip to Knoxville two months ago.
“The main schools, really, are Tennessee and Michigan State,” said Caldwell, who’s ranked the No. 380 overall prospect and No. 27 athlete in the 2022 class, according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. “(We talk on) about a daily basis, or every other day.”
The 6-foot-2, 177-pound Caldwell said the Vols and Spartans are the “top two” teams he’s considering at the moment. He said he’s planning to take official visits to “probably just those two right now,” although he intends to keep an open mind and wait at least several more weeks to see if other teams decide to enter the picture this season.
“That’s really what opened my eyes, for real — when the offers came — and then the relationship with Kentucky wasn’t there, either,” he said.
But that hasn’t been a problem with first-year Tennessee coach Josh Heupel’s staff. Caldwell said he has continued to hear plenty from the Vols since he visited them for the first time June 17 with a number of his teammates and earned a scholarship offer from them with a strong showing at their camp.
“We’ve been talking a lot,” he said. “We’ve been talking about everything. They’ve been talking to me since the little visit and the little camp. Our relationship’s gotten better.
“They basically just told me straight-up that I’m a fit in their defense. They can see me as a safety there.”
Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks, a Detroit native, is serving as Caldwell’s primary recruiter for the Vols. Caldwell said he also has been talking with Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez.
“I like the way (Banks) coaches,” Caldwell said. “As soon as I saw him, he told me that I can be a safety there. I like that. I like how he just kept it straightforward with me as soon as he saw me.”
“I like the coaches, (and) the players especially,” he said. “The players were running the drills, but I was talking to them, interacting with them, and I like them a lot. The main player I was talking to was (cornerback) Kamal (Hadden). Me and Kamal, we grew up together, basically. Him and my brother, they’re the same age. They grew up playing football, and I was the youngest one, so they taught me a lot of stuff.
“He said I’ll love it (at Tennessee). He said the fans are nice, (and) the coaches, the environment. He said I’ll love it.”
Caldwell said he’s already planning to return to Tennessee this season.
“I’m going to come back for a game, no doubt,” he said. “I haven’t scheduled it yet.”
Tim Banks was in the house last week to watch Jeremiah Caldwell and Tennessee continues to feel like they are very much in the mix there. When will he official to Knoxville? Maybe this fall but he could also wait until December.
Jeremiah Caldwell is focused on Tennessee and Michigan State. Kentucky seems to be out of the picture at this point as his relationship with Tim Banks continues to be the biggest reason he has interest in the Vols. Look for him to officially visit sometime this fall.